The seductive elegance and charm of Argentina’s capital is hard to resist. Styled like a European city, Buenos Aires is an enticing mix of old-world languor and contemporary attitude. Gourmet cuisine, awesome shopping, cutting-edge boutiques and ritzy neighbourhoods flourish alongside the quaint cafes, colonial architecture, lively outdoor markets and diverse communities of classic Buenos Aires. The city’s not short on top-drawer activities either – join in with the passionate football fans at a local match, discover a unique bird’s-eye view of the city with an exhilarating skydive, or sample some of the country’s most renowned wines with a wine-tasting tour. No trip to Buenos Aires would be complete without some sort of experience of the Tango, Argentina’s national dance. Under cover of the night, watch some authentic dance performances or put on your dancing shoes and learn to tango yourself. And when you’re hungry, dine on some of the best steak in the world.
Straddling the border of Brazil and Argentina, the UNESCO listed Iguazu Falls is one of the largest waterfalls in the world. The falls were created where the Iguazu Rover broadens to around 1.5km and then plunges nearly 100m off a basalt plateau in a series of 274 separate cataracts. Each day tonnes of water crashes over the cliffs, creating a constant mist of spray that rises amongst the jungle. The falls sit in a national park home to more than 200 species of plant, 450 species of bird and rare mammals such as the jaguar. This stunning setting of dense jungle interspersed with vivid swarms of butterflies and the constant roar of the falling water combine to forge an unforgettable impression. It’s possible to see the falls from both Brazil and Argentina, and visitors will soon discover that the perspective of Iguazu Falls changes with every step.
Named after Argentine explorer Francisco Moreno, the spectacular Perito Moreno glacier is the centrepiece of the Parque Nacional Los Glaciares. One of the world’s most dynamic and accessible ice fields, the glacier covers some 250 square kilometres with a height of around 60 metres. Unlike most glaciers that decrease in size each year, the Perito Moreno glacier is actually growing slightly and advances at a speed of around 2 metres per day. Coloured in a variety of hues from blue to grey to white, the glacier changes appearance as the day progresses and is a magnificent sight to behold. It can put on an astonishing show, both visually and auditory, when giant chunks of ice collapse from the glacier’s face and crash into the waters of the Iceberg Channel below. A series of catwalks and vantage points enable visitors to safely hear, see and photograph this impressive display.
Often compared with Alaska’s Panhandle, the stunning Tierra del Fuego (Land of Fire) National Park covers 63,000 hectares of mountains, rivers, lakes, deep valleys and glaciers. The park is Argentina’s first coastal national park and has a number of scenic hikes along great bays, rivers and small beaches backed by rugged mountains, and trails through dense native evergreen forests. Autumn puts on a truly spectacular show of colour when hillsides of trees burst into flaming reds and orange. The park is also home to a prolific number of bird species and a variety of other wildlife. The town of Ushuaia is the starting point for most forays into the national park and holds the title of the world’s most southern city. From here it’s possible to explore the straits that separate the islands of the Tierra del Fuego archipelago with a cruise on the blue waters of the Beagle Channel.
Framed by the snow-capped Andean mountains to the east, and a smaller coastal range to the west, Santiago basks in one of the most spectacular settings of any city in the world and on a clear day, a glance through the downtown blocks reveals this mighty circle of mountains. In the heart of Santiago you’ll find a quirky, cultured and ambitious capital city – gleaming towers in the financial district of Las Condas look down over the charming old district of Barrio Brasil where the bohemians gather for afternoon coffee in hip cafes. With fine museums, a flourishing arts scene, thriving culinary enclaves and leafy, exotic suburban parks, there’s plenty to discover here. And beyond the city’s urban sprawl, there’s a huge range of outdoor activities on offer. Right on Santiago’s doorstep are the exhilarating possibilities of trekking, kayaking, horseback riding, skiing and wine tours - those mountains aren’t just for decoration.
Located in the extreme south region of Patagonian Chile, the Torres del Paine National Park may just be South America’s finest. The spectacular granite pillars, known as the Towers of Blue and what give the national park its name, jut out some 2800m above the Patagonian steppe and dominate the landscape. These breathtaking spires are flanked by the summit of Paine Grande and the sharp tusks of black sedimentary peaks known as Los Cuernos. Below these towering peaks lie emerald forests, roaring rivers, radiant glaciers and azure lakes. The park is a hiker’s dream with a highly developed infrastructure, well-maintained trails and beautiful campsites. The stunning scenery with vividly coloured flowers and rich evergreen plants is bound to take your breath away, and the park is also home to an array of bird species, including the ostrich-like rhea, Andean condors and flamingos, making it a nature lover’s paradise.
Flanked by the perfectly conical volcano of the same name, the divinely blue Lake Villarrica rates highly as one of Chile’s most popular destinations. Located in the Lake District of Chile, the whole area is surrounded by lakes, mountains, forests, hot springs, rivers, waterfalls and the active Volcano Villarrica whose crater spends most of its day billowing smoke and on clear nights emits an eerie red glow. These natural attractions offer a wealth of adventure activities from trekking, white water rafting, mountain biking, water sports on the lake, hiking to the summit of the volcano and skiing during the winter months. The town of Pucon is the best place to sample all that the region has to offer with great infrastructure, quality accommodations and a diverse selection of restaurants. With spectacular views of the volcano, it’s a popular place and well-equipped to help with the traveller’s wildest dreams.